by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:
Kirkland city leaders will decide Tuesday on whether to spend up to $770,000 on a project downtown. Project engineers say it will improve pedestrian safety on Park Lane.
But some business owners are worried the construction could put them out of business. Suraphong Lienboonlertchai, who's known by 'A', is worried about his toy store, Simplicity ABC. "Long term, you think it's a good idea?" KIRO 7 asked. "Absolutely... I'm just concerned about the construction," he said.
Sidewalks on Park lane, which are uneven because of tree roots pushing them up, would be redone. Trees would be replaced. The city would repave the road, bringing it to up level with the sidewalk and potentially dividing them with small decorative poles. The street could host festivals and a market.
Shoppers said it sounds good. "I think it'd be a great idea," Brianna Ferdig said. "It'd be a lot of fun."
But Lienboonlertchai sees lost business. He believes the city should speak further with business owners about how it could off-set the loss of business, like advertising and perhaps offering free parking for customers. The city surveyed 19 businesses and 4 said no to the project; 13 said maybe; and 2 yes.
"We're taking this opportunity to make it more pedestrian-friendly, more walkable," project engineer Gina Hortillosa said. She said the city wants to move forward now that it's won a big grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council, which gets federal, state, and local funding.
The award could be anywhere from $500,000 to $857,000 but they do not know the exact amount yet. She said the city would have to come up big too, from $413,000 to $770,000. The Kirkland City Council could also choose to hold off deciding until it knows the full amount of the grant.